Tarahumara (True name: Raramuri ‘running people’) people are a peaceful pureblood native tribe from Mexico and the human equivalent of a snow leopard, agile over rock, elusive and enormously intriguing.

Their ability to resist common ailments and defy physical precedents both athletic and age related make them unique and unquantifiable. Unlocking the secrets of their longevity and superior physical conditioning have inspired many an adventurous athlete, journalist, psychologist, medical scientist and historian to venture into the remote wilds of the Mexican high planes to study their habits and unearth the answers!

Their impressive lung capacity and zen like existence appear to be key components whilst their diet which is laden with typically unhealthy foods (high glucose corn meals and alcohol) continue to perplex experts have linked this lifestyle to devastating health consequences. Understanding all the elements to the Tarahumara Health Paradox remains an on-going initiative but one ingredient revealed in research which can benefit the modern athlete is mesquite (Prosopis veluntina).

Prosopis velutina, commonly known as velvet mesquite, is a small to medium-sized perennial tree. © Nicola van Berkel / iNaturalist

Mesquite is a plantfood of great significance to Southwest native people and a dietary staple for the Tarahumaras who consume it in pinole to sustain their legendary hundred-mile mountain marathons.

Mesquite is a leguminous, drought-resistant small tree or shrub that as a wild edible provides a rich source of lysine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.

The meal ground from mesquite pods is aromatic and sweet so is often used to replace sugars in baking. The Native Americans would also simmer whole pods to create a delicious syrup and used leaves to make a drink of tea with astringent and antimicrobial benefits.
Using this ancient wisdom of native nutrition to enhance stamina and improve endurance why not try adding mesquite meal to your pre-training beverage as in the recipe below.

Tarahumara Tonic

1 tbsp of mesquite powder
1 tsp of agave nectar
1/2 pineapple (peel)
1/2 orange (peel)
1/3 cup of fresh peppermint or mint leaves
Pinch of Chile Piquin (cayenne will also work)

Place ingredients into a power blender and pulse until smooth.

Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.